Spinach has been a household vegetable for generations, famed for its apparent ability to make you stronger. However while the jury is out on that claim, eating spinach before bed can actually help you sleep and give you a number of health benefits as well. We explain how, right here.
Eating spinach before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Although eaten for centuries, it’s only recently that we’ve discovered that eating spinach before bed may actually benefit sleep.
That’s because spinach is a great source of tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep as tryptophan helps your body produce an important sleep hormone called melatonin.
Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and is so important to our sleep health that often individuals who are struggling to sleep – or have been diagnosed with insomnia – are prescribed melatonin. Therefore eating spinach before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time and make you sleepy.
Tryptophan also helps your body produce serotonin – a hormone that helps with our mood, well-being and happiness. Serotonin has a role to play in inducing sleep, and is needed in order for the body to produce that all-important sleep hormone – melatonin!
It doesn’t end there either. Spinach is a rich source of magnesium. Why’s that notable? Well supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help relieve symptoms of insomnia and improve sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety – one of the leading causes of insomnia.
It’s also rich in folate – known as Vitamin B9. This vitamin tends to be low in individuals that suffer from insomnia and sleep disorders, so topping up folate levels by eating spinach could help sleep quality.
Eating spinach before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of tryptophan – which helps produce the sleep hormone melatonin – as well as magnesium and folate. All of which have been shown to have a positive effect on sleep.
Eating spinach: What are the HEALTH benefits?
This remarkable leafy green is also an anti-inflammatory, and is loaded with antioxidants. Both are crucial to keeping your health in check, and can even reverse damage done to your body.
The powerful anti-inflammatory nature of spinach has been studied before, and is important to note as many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like spinach or walnuts – is a no-brainer.
In fact one study even concluded that spinach had anti-cancer and anti-obesity properties.
Spinach is also a great source of antioxidants. That’s important as antioxidants appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
Antioxidant foods also help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules (which can cause harm) and antioxidants – that imbalance then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like spinach or grapes – should be a priority.
The science has been backed up too. Spinach has some of the highest antioxidant qualities among vegetables, appears to be have anti-diabetic properties, could have strong cardiovascular benefits, and may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Spinach has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown spinach to have a positive effect on health, potentially protect against disease, and boost the immune system.
Spinach for sleep and overall health: Incorporating it into your diet
Spinach can be found in shops and supermarkets around the world. This leafy green superfood can be eaten on its own, but it’s also easy to incorporate into your diet.
There are many different ways to incorporate spinach into your diet too. You can use it as a side for a main dish, bake it into pastries, or as part of a curry.
For the full benefits of spinach we recommend including it as part of a smoothie. This tends to be the best way to get the full anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of this remarkable vegetable.
Eating spinach before bed: What about side effects?
If you don’t have a spinach allergy then moderate consumption of spinach shouldn’t cause any side effects. However eating spinach in excess could lead to side effects like bloating, gas, and diarrhoea.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.